Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Chapters in Life

My life, up to the present, seems to be divided into chapters. I suppose that this may be true for people everywhere. Some chapters were written for me. Some chapters were written in connection and some were written in concert. Since expressing my faith in the transforming power of God through His Son, Jesus Christ, my life chapters should have His hand impressed upon them. Looking back over the pages I have made some observations about the book that is me.

Conception- My book began without my consent or knowledge. My dad, a world war two veteran, was the father of seven children. My mother, a ravishing beauty, snagged my dad shortly after the war. I am the fourth of five boys and the fifth of seven children. Birth order people would have fun with this family. I didn't ask for brothers or sisters as they did not ask for me. I was born into a mixture of personalities, environment and family culture, all of which, again, I did not choose. So, for the first years of my life I was the product of  care and nurturing. I didn't make many decisions on my own. I didn't pick out my clothes or decide what I was going to eat for breakfast, lunch or supper. I suppose this chapter took up the first five to seven years of my life.

Conscious- At some time during the conception period I began making some decisions. There is a mixture in the flow of one chapter into another as personality an identity develop. Somewhere in the mix of early years I remember very clearly telling an older brother, Tim, that he was going to hell because he killed my frog. That deeply held experience might have been reinforced by the bar of soap my teeth scraped as my mother held my mouth open. This chapter in my life is one of experimentation. Learning what things I liked and what I didn't like. Again a strange mixture. Some things I liked my dad didn't care for and had a rather abrupt way of telling me. I learned I liked playing baseball and football with my friends and did not like playing them in any organized way. I learned a bit of passive-resistance during this chapter. You see, sports were a big thing in our house. My dad, prior to WWII, tried out for the Toledo Mudhens. Baseball was king and it was expected that we would play. I played, but stunk. I was especially stinky when i played on the team my dad coached. I was learning that I could make decisions and that each decision would have consequences. This chapter in my life would color the pages of all that followed.

Concentration- This chapter or chapters brought great challenges and rewards as well as confusion and pain. It seemed as though great awakenings were filling this part of my book. The desire to obtain certain goals were pretty strong driving forces. Getting my drivers license meant freedom and supposed adulthood. Finding ways to obtain alcohol brought challenges and elation, headaches and vomiting. The first girl that stole my heart had me doing some really dumb things, like taking a bath in Canoe Aftershave, not a full bath, just an ounce or so. I was so gaga over this girl, only to have her turn me down for a dumb hillbilly that could play guitar and sing country. She still wanted to be my friend.

These chapters or phases also brought pain and confusion. My mother suffered from epilepsy all her life and I began to understand how severe this impacted all of us as a family. Some near tragic events haunted me for a long time. Confusion came as I understood that she would live a very healthy and vibrant life as long as she took her medication and stayed away from alcohol as much as possible. So, when seizures led to her knocking out teeth and falling into a fire confusion followed me. At the age of fifteen the death of my brother brought great pain and even deeper confusion. It was at this point that my concept of God was warped. I believed that God had favorite people and if you were on the good list good followed. With family trauma and pain I knew that we could not be on the good list. God had a club that he used for people that were not on the good list. The club yielded pain, heartache, confusion, fractures in functioning and assorted other ills.

Cooperation- As a young adult I fell head over heels in love. Along with capturing my heart my new love helped God capture my soul. As a young adult I had to examine the claims of Christ and His power in transforming human character. I knew I needed God's grace and love, nobody needed to beat it into my head. I knew full well the confusion and lostness of my spirit. So, at a given point in time, I agreed with God about my condition and the ability of Christ to radically change my life. I came to the point of knowing that I trusted Christ to have paid the penalty for my sin and by His resurrection to bestow upon me a new life and character. I was going to live my life in cooperation with God. As my knowledge of, and relationship with, Him grew, so also did my desire to serve Him in whatever way He desired. His path led me and Donna to serve in active full time ministry. After our ordination we served God and people in three congregations before moving to Zambia. I felt confident in His provide-ance for my family and served with joy and passion. The time in Zambia would prove to be the highest and lowest points in my life. The highest was in God's timing of Ana coming into me and my families life. The lowest point came in the attack and ensuing trauma forced upon Donna and the girls.

Convalescence- After Zambia a series of serious health issues came upon us. With the already damaged and bruised spirits we were living with the health issues forced me to make a drastic decision. I decided that it would be best for the family to resign from our ministry and try to find some peace and healing. A friend provided the place. We put enough money down to buy a small orchard and farm house. I named it Genesis Farm, our place of new beginnings. The new surroundings brought a sense of peace and starting over. But, that would last only so long. God never intended for us to sit on the sidelines of life and watch. Over a period of time new ministry opportunities came our way and we moved forward into the spiritual battlefield. I found writing to be a great healing balm for the wounds I carried. You see, I doubted God and even came to the place of doubting His concern and involvement in the affairs of mankind. I was thinking again, that He carried a big stick and I was not in His favor. Through writing I was able to understand a little more about the purposes of God. His grace empowered me to see and understand His character in ways I never thought of before. I began to thank God for the experiences of Zambia and the crushing I experienced.

Congruity- Hypocrisy is alive and well in my life. The things I find so easy to criticise in others are the boils that are just under the surface of my life. How easy it is to talk about spiritual truth, to preach of the goodness of God and make allowances for my self. Excuses are a dime a dozen when it comes to covering over my own inconsistencies. I earnestly desire to have the final chapters in my book to ones of congruity. To have my words and actions line up, to leave behind the excuses and rationalizations. To grow into the person God always intended for me to be. I have no idea how many chapters are still to be written, or how long each chapter might be. I do know that I want my life to match my words.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Ted, I can't wait to have your book on my shelf.

    Blessings from the Only God who can deliver.